Saturday, July 7, 2012

War, What Is It Good For?

Fraggles live a good life.  Their society, for all it's flaws, is quite utopian.  Their problems can always be easily fixed and while their simple minds may take them a long moment to figure out proper solutions, they always live to see another day of fun and laughter.  They are a peaceful, non-violent society, and nothing could ever change that, right?

Well, it's time to look at "Episode 217: Fraggle Wars."

Red and Mokey go camping as far away from Fraggle Rock as possible (because Gobo also went camping far away, and Red has to beat him).  Mokey muses that despite their differences, all Fraggles are the same, deep down.  Her explanation of the episode's moral is cut short however, when they discover that they have wandered on to the land of another group of Fraggles.  These Fraggles of "Fraggle Cave" are the exact opposite of the Fraggles we know an love.  Orderly and humorless, the Cave Fraggles are not keen on excitement of any kind.

"We are happy here."

Recognizing Mokey and Red as enemy Fraggles, the Cave Fraggles capture Mokey and lock her in a cage.  Red manages to elude them and returns to Fraggle Rock to warn the others.  The World's Oldest Fraggle steps in and reveals that the Cave Fraggles are the sworn enemies of the Rock Fraggles and since they have captured Mokey, there is no choice but to go to war.

Listen to him! He has a beard!

The peaceful Fraggles are hesitant and confused about going to war, but Red exaggerates about Mokey's predicament, claiming all sorts of torture that the Cave Fraggles are putting her through.

I feel like there might be a metaphor in all of this.

Back at Fraggle Cave, Mokey tries to reason with her captor, Beige Fraggle, who sympathizes with her, yet feels that rules are rules and Mokey should be punished.  The Cave's own Oldest Fraggle also decides that a war is in order, and Beige blindly follows along.  Mokey tries to get Beige to experience the joys of laughter and song, and it is revealed that Cave Fraggles have their own form of humor: telling jokes without punchlines or wit and then laughing in rhythmic unison.

No video here, but I assure you, it's creepy.

Mokey tries to convince the Cave Fraggles to listen to their inner voices rather than their oppressive rules.  But the Cave Fraggles don't understand her and instead leave her as they head off to war.  Mokey sings a wistful tune as the two sides prepare to kill each other, reflecting on the beauty of life that is about to be demolished.

I know why the caged Fraggle sings.

But alas, all of Mokey's efforts are futile.  The Cave Fraggles ready their weapons.

And the Rock Fraggles brandish the first weapon they've ever used in decades.

 This is serious.

Red, who only wants to save Mokey, asks the World's Oldest Fraggle why the two groups hate each other so much and it is revealed that because of their different senses of humor.  The Rock Fraggles believed only their jokes were funny while the Cave Fraggles believed only their jokes were funny.  Realizing that Fraggles could die over this inane reasoning, Red teams up with Beige, and together, they pie their respective leaders in the face.

Just like the alternate ending to Dr. Strangelove!

Both groups of Fraggles start laughing and the war is averted, now that each side finds something that they have in common with the other: pie-to-the-face comedy gold.

This anti-war episode of Fraggle Rock deals with the atrocities of war as best as a children's show can. There are euphemisms for everything, including the reasoning behind barbaric practices.  Mokey's torture, the Cave Fraggles blindly following orders, the "wise" elders leading the charge based on tradition, the doomsday weapons.  Each of these are treated with simplicity, yet speak to larger issues.  But the fact that even the peaceful Fraggles can be brought to a state of war is alarming.  That the cause of war is over a source of joy makes the absurdity all the stronger.  The episode serves to remind us that no matter our beliefs or affiliations, we are all sharing the same Rock.

No comments:

Post a Comment